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Cotton Twill: All secrets of this famous diagonal pattern

There are plenty of materials on offer today – natural or synthetic, heavy or light, with diagonal or horizontal patterns, smooth or sharp – something to soothe everyone’s taste, one could say. One of the most popular materials in the world is cotton twill – the king amongst fabrics with its recognizable diagonal lines.

First things first: have you ever wondered when people started using fabrics? When did it occur to them that they could use plants to make clothes? Let’s start with the history of fabrics (materials made by weaving) so we could tell you the story of cotton twill.

The history of fabrics

When did humans first start using materials (and who came up with the idea), we cannot say for sure. Perhaps a caveman was bored, he took those fluffy cotton balls and started intertwining them. The earliest proof we have are flax threads found in a cave in Georgia dating back to 34 000 BC. Whether they were weaved or knit materials, no one knows for sure. 

The first evidence of weaving was found in Czech Republic – fabric imprints found on pottery. Keep in mind that fabrics are degradable – those poor ones won’t even last a year, let alone 27.000 years, the age of these imprints, so it’s rather difficult to find perfectly preserved samples. 

Now that we know when it all started, we may begin the story of cotton twill, our most famous fabric.

How is cotton twill made?

First we must clarify one thing. There are three different types of weave:

  • Regular weave: has a simple, cross pattern 
  • Twill weave: has a diagonal, parallel pattern
  • Satin weave: characteristic smooth surface

How can there be three types of weave, you may wonder? Weave is made of two strings (in this case cotton) intertwined in different ways, forming different types of weave. These two strings are called warp and weft.

In twill weave, warp passes above one or more strings of weft, and then below them. Repeating this process results in characteristic diagonal pattern with two different sides of fabric. The front side is more resilient and visually appealing.

Twill weave can be made of different materials – wool, cotton, polyester, silk, flax and viscose. In this case we are focusing on cotton twill.

What are the main characteristics of cotton twill and what is it used for?

Cotton twill may vary in its weight, depending on how much strings are there in the weave (usually between 100 to 500 strings). Our classic cotton twill weighs 245 g/m2.

There are different types of cotton twill according to its weight: from a light chino fabric used for casual pants and skirts, to heavy denim which we all know as our favourite jeans (no, not the stretchy ones we have today but those classic cotton ones, popular in the eighties). 

No matter the weight, all cotton twills have some common characteristics:

  • Due to its structure, cotton twill drapes wonderfully and clings to the items draped by it.
  • It is stronger and thicker than classic weave, and the stains aren’t so visible.
  • It isn’t so prone to wrinkles as classic weave fabrics.

What can you use cotton twill for?

This matter once again depends on the weight of the material. Lighter twills are perfect for skirts, shawls, neckerchiefs and ties, while heavier twills can be used for classic jeans, jackets and outdoor work clothes for more demanding jobs such as construction. 

In conclusion, cotton twill can be used for:

  • Clothing: jackets, polo shirts, underwear, work clothes
  • Home textile: bed linen, blankets, mattress covers, tablecloths, curtains, carpets, towels, kitchen towels etc.

Interesting facts about cotton twill

  • Serge is a type of cotton twill considered to be the original name for denim. Today it is used for raincoats and work uniforms due to its smooth surface. 
  • Chino fabric was initially used in the USA for summer military uniforms in World War I. In the fifties and the sixties it became a symbol of prestigious “Ivy League” look. In the end it was made famous by GAP commercials and the “casual Friday” concept.
  • The biggest world manufacturer and exporter of cotton twill is China, followed by USA, Pakistan and India.
  • The word twill comes from old English word twili, meaning woven with double thread.

What makes cotton twill our web shop’s most famous fabric? Its quality and wide range of use. Come up with your own design, and we will print it on the fabric so you can make the most creative DIY projects.

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